October 18th is National Pharmacy Technician Day– a day to recognize the critical contributions made by these front-line healthcare team members to ensure patient health and safety. Pharmacy technicians play a vital role in pharmacy operations, making sure pharmacists can stay focused on performing at the top of their licenses. Many also interact daily with patients and are the initial point of contact when a patient picks up medication or seeks advice from the pharmacy. With so many new responsibilities and a higher demand across the profession, it is more important than ever to recognize pharmacy technicians and show our gratitude. After all, sincere appreciation goes a long way in increasing job satisfaction in a field where burnout has been high.
What exactly does a pharmacy technician do?
The role of the pharmacy technician has changed substantially over the past few decades. Before, they were referred to as “clerks” and greeted patients and took care of them at checkout. Now, with over 449,070 pharmacy technicians currently employed in the United States and an increase in responsibility, they can perform several duties aside from greeting patients and checking them out at the register (zippia.com). This can include retail or hospital pharmacies, long-term care and mail service pharmacies, in-home health care settings, educational programs, medication management platforms, and even insurance companies.
While roles and responsibilities vary by setting, each task helps keep the daily operations of a pharmacy afloat. For example, a pharmacy technician who works in a retail setting, such as CVS, Walgreens, Meijer, or Walmart, will typically be dispensing medication, performing data entry, and handling billing insurance for your medication. In the hospital setting, pharmacy technicians typically prepare and compound IV medications, maintain automated medication dispensing machines, and dispense medications.
Pharmacy technicians also serve as the liaisons between pharmacists and other healthcare professionals as well as patients. Technicians assist in giving pharmacists protected time to verify medications, counsel patients, and administer vaccines by answering the phones, troubleshooting insurance coverage issues, and checking patients out at the register.
Pharmacy technicians becoming an active player in managing medication adherence
According to the CDC, 82% of American adults take at least one medication and 29% take five or more medications. An estimated 700,000 emergency department visits and 120,000 hospitalizations are due to adverse drug events annually, resulting in an annual cost of $3.5 billion dollars. These factors have led to an increased demand for involvement in medication therapy management (MTM). Although pharmacists must perform many of the vital steps in MTM systems, pharmacy technicians can play a vital role in MTM. In fact, technicians have become more active and involved in managing medication adherence programs to reduce pharmacists’ burden and provide a cost-effective way to efficiently redistribute a pharmacists’ time in medication management duties. As a technician, these roles can include monitoring MTM databases, finding cost-effective resources to lower copays, and even alerting a pharmacist if a patient is experiencing side effects with their medication.
How to observe #PharmacyTechnicianDay
Be sure to shout-out to friends and family members who work in the pharmacy field to show your gratitude for the hard work and dedication they provide each day to patients. If you are a pharmacy technician, you can share the hashtag #PharmacyTechnicianDay or #RxTechDay on all your social media outlets to tell stories about your career and what you love about it. You can also join or share events supported by pharmacy organizations. Lastly, you can just say “Thanks!”. Pharmacies can have hundreds of patients in and out of the stores each day, and not every interaction can be a positive one. Simply expressing your gratitude to a pharmacy technician could make her day. Finding ways to get involved in the community, paying it forward to those around us, and celebrating each other for our hard work will make us all better at doing what we love to do.
Pharmacists provide a valuable service to patient care as the medication experts, and having high-quality pharmacy technicians that keep the pharmacy running is integral to making sure our patients have the medications they need to get better. At illuminate.health, our pharmacy technicians play a vital role in providing care to our patients. If you are interested in joining our Clinical Team Talent Community, please visit https://bit.ly/3ABF6QA to submit your information.
About the author:
Jennah Worthington is a Brand Ambassador Intern for illuminate.health and is a senior studying Healthcare & Business at Butler University. She has a passion for the pharmaceutical industry and gaining a deeper understanding of the roles of health providers, insurers, and administrators. She strives to help find ways to increase accessibility in various areas of healthcare. Jennah resides in Indianapolis and enjoys going on walks with her Dalmatian.